Marriage Parable: The Sun and The North Wind
A traveler was walking alone down a country lane. The Sun and the North Wind decided to have a contest to see who could remove the traveler’s overcoat. The North Wind tried first. He blew and he blew around the traveler as fiercely as he could, trying to rip the coat from the traveler but the traveler wrapped his coat more closely around him and held it tighter. The more the North Wind blew, the tighter the traveler hugged the coat. Then the Sun said, “Let me try,” and as she gently shone her warmth on the traveler, the traveler opened his coat and within minutes took it off (Alison Lee, Ph.D., EFT Community News 2013).
Now, put on your relationship hat. What is this parable teaching about creating closeness and safety in a marriage? Imagine that the traveler is you or your spouse and the overcoat represents vulnerability or risking connection in the relationship. To reach our partner and feel the reassurance that we are loved and cared for, we can choose to “blow off the overcoat” like the North Wind or “to gently warm” our spouse and he/she will remove the overcoat willingly.
Most often I see couples taking the North Wind approach. They use blaming, criticism, defensiveness, and withdrawing in an effort to protect against abandonment and rejection. The result is predictable; their partner holds tighter to the protective overcoat and becomes emotionally and physically unavailable not willing to risk vulnerability. The more a spouse “blows,” the more the other spouse protects from hurt and loneliness by closing off. And so the “storm” continues to brew with each partner hoping for a different response.
The other option is to be the Sun and “gently warm” your partner with soft, slow and simple responses that show caring and curiosity. Vulnerability, the key to a safe and loving marriage, cannot be demanded or coursed but must be invited and protected. Once safe, the “overcoat” can be removed and lasting connection take its place. Learn more about rebuilding a loving and safe relationship with your spouse by attending a couple’s workshop or date night at Wasatch Family Therapy.
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